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What We Owe the Future

William MacAskill

Humanity is in its infancy. Our future could last for millions of years – or it could end tomorrow. Astonishing numbers of people could lead lives of great happiness or unimaginable suffering, or never live at all, depending on what we choose to do today. As we approach a critical juncture in our history, we can make profound moral decisions about how humanity’s course plays out. We can create positive change on behalf of future generations, to prevent the use of catastrophic weapons and maintain peace between the world’s great powers. We can improve our moral values, navigating the rise of AI and climate change more fairly for generations to come. The challenges we face are enormous. But so is the influence we have. If we choose wisely, our distant descendants will look back on us fondly, knowing we did everything we could to give them a world that is beautiful and just.

I'm Will MacAskill, Associate Professor in Philosophy and Research Fellow at the Global Priorities Institute, University of Oxford. My academic research focuses on the fundamentals of effective altruism - the use of evidence and reason to help others as much as possible with our time and money - with a particular concentration on how to act given moral uncertainty. I am the author of the upcoming book What We Owe The Future. I also wrote Doing Good Better and co-authored Moral Uncertainty. I am the Director of the Forethought Foundation for Global Priorities Research, a co-founder and the President of the Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA) and I helped to create the effective altruism movement. CEA supports hundreds of effective altruism local groups, hosts regular effective altruism conferences, and providing online resources and forums for discussion. I also co-founded 80,000 Hours, a YCombinator-backed non-profit that provides research and advice on how you can best make a difference with your career, and Giving What We Can, a global community of effective givers that is best known for The Giving What We Can Pledge to give 10% of lifetime income to the most effective charities.

Category:  Ethics & Moral Philosophy
ISBN:  9780861544820
Publisher:  Oneworld Publications
On sale:  September 2022
Format:  Paperback
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